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Hyatt Carmel Highlands Big Sur Hotel Review

The Hyatt Carmel Highlands has been on my wish list for a while. When my family and I decided to head to the area for a day trip a few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to try and wrangle us a stay at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands hotel driveway

Hyatt Carmel Highlands, main building

The hotel frequently offers discounted stays in exchange for attending time share presentations. My sister did this a few years ago and reported that the sales pitch wasn’t especially aggressive and she received a $89 rate for a 2-bedroom suite.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Hotel lobby

Hyatt Carmel Highlands lobby

On points, standard Garden View rooms cost 25,000 points per night, while the My Elite rate was $450. Despite the high paid rates, I would never book a Garden View room for 25,000 points per night. My sister stayed in one during this trip and it had the most awkward, claustrophobic floor plan of any hotel room I’ve ever seen.

I was pretty happy about getting an Oceanview Townhouse Spa Suite for just 12,500 points + $150 per night. We scored two of these suites along with a Garden View room and were given breakfast for 12 as part of both mine and my sister’s Hyatt Diamond benefits. I wrote up a brief post about how I managed to book this stay on cash + points for $0 out of pocket, so I won’t bore you with the details again.

The hotel is perched on a hill, with incredible views of the bay. Despite it being a gloomy day, the scenery was just beautiful.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands - views on the way to the rooms

Hyatt Carmel Highlands – views on the way to the rooms

Oceanview Townhouse Spa Suite at Hyatt Carmel Highlands 

The two Townhouse Spa suites were next to each other and fairly close to the lobby. While there is limited parking on the road leading to the rooms, the hotel does offer complimentary valet parking. There’s certainly no need to park in one of the temporary spots outside of the rooms unless you have a lot of stuff to unload.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands - the road to our room and temporary parking ahead

Hyatt Carmel Highlands – the road to our room and temporary parking ahead

Hyatt Carmel Oceanview Townhouse Spa Suite exterior

Hyatt Carmel Oceanview Townhouse Spa Suite exterior

Rates for the Oceanview Townhouse Spa Suite were over $750 per night at the time, but all it took was Points + Cash and Diamond suite upgrade award to get the room. The suite was two stories, with a bathroom, kitchen, living room, and balcony upstairs.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Townhouse Spa Suite living room

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Townhouse Spa Suite living room

The kitchen was fully equipped, with cooking utensils tucked away in drawers like nobody had ever opened them and a Keurig coffee maker propped on the counter. For a while now I’ve been torn between getting a Nespresso vs. Keurig machine. The Nespresso machines are definitely prettier, but I think Keurig wins my vote for their Green Mountain Coffee K-cups. I’ve said this before and it still rings true: I know nothing about coffee, except that the more sugar I add, the better it tastes. However, this was a really good cup of coffee!

Plenty of coffee for caffeine addicts

Plenty of coffee for caffeine addicts

On the living room side table were a pair of binoculars, which was a nice touch since Ric from Loyalty Traveler tells me you can sometimes see humpback whales from the property. I didn’t catch any that day, buy my niece and cousins had fun using them though.

The balcony had seating for two and was the perfect place from which to take in the views. You’ll notice the smell of smoke all around the resort, but especially on the balcony, due to everyone using their in-room wood burning fireplace. It’s actually nice. I liked that the balcony had a power outlet, so you could plug in your laptop if you needed to. The sliding door leading to the balcony didn’t close properly, but overall the suite was in great shape.

View from the Hyatt Carmel Highlands

View from the Hyatt Carmel Highlands

The bedroom is downstairs, separated from the bathroom by a sliding door.  The giant jacuzzi tub took up way more space than necessary. 

Townhouse Spa Suite bedroom and bathroom

Townhouse Spa Suite bedroom and bathroom

Overall, I think the suite was nice but a bit on the cramped side – though it is designed for four, with a pull-out couch in the living room (which was very comfortably by the way). It was also pretty dark on both levels and the living room, especially, could have benefited from a few extra ceiling lights.

The bedroom - a bit on the dark side

The bedroom – a bit on the dark side

Breakfast at California Market, Hyatt Carmel Highlands 

If you somehow end up in a room without views, eating on the deck of California Market will more than make up for it. That day, it was very cold, so we all sat inside. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much of a crowd at breakfast. I guess it’s not included in the timeshare pitch?

Hyatt Carmel Highlands California Market Restaurant

Hyatt Carmel Highlands California Market Restaurant

The menu was actually reasonably priced. No $40 breakfast buffet here – most items were priced around $15. I had the Point Lobos Eggs Benedict, which came topped with dungeness crab and avocado. While it was delicious, the hollandaise sauce was way too sour.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Lobby Lounge

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Lobby Lounge

The Lobby Lounge at Hyatt Carmel Highlands

The lobby lounge was spacious and had beautiful views of the bay. There were several power outlets by the window, perfect if you want a quiet place to work. There is also a large telescope in the corner if you want to get a closer look at what’s swimming in the bay. When I sat down, it was fairly empty though eventually a few timeshare salesmen and their victims sat down nearby. 

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Lobby Lounge

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Lobby Lounge

The Service at Hyatt Carmel Highlands 

The service at this hotel was wonderful overall. Housekeeping made quite a few trips to our rooms in the middle of the night to bring bedding and towels, but they were always pleasant about it. When you hear, “It’s a beautiful day at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, how may I direct your call?” in an unreal voice, you might want to forego your usually curt “Agent.” It took me two calls to figure out I was talking to a person rather than an automated system. 

We had a great experience and were especially grateful that they let us check out late. The Hyatt Carmel Highlands seems to always be sold out, but if you can manage it, it’s worth staying here – especially if you can reserve a suite.

Dining Out Near the Hyatt Carmel Highlands 

We found a charming little family-run restaurant nearby called Cafe Stravaganza, where we feasted on pizza and kebabs. The Philly Cheesesteak Pizza is especially good. If you like a crispy crust with lots of gooey cheese and tender slices of steak, wear lose fitting jeans because you will pack it in my friend. I ate six slices but could have easily eaten the whole pizza my sister and I were sharing.

The service was excellent, with both the waitress and owner checking on us several times. We were told that the restaurant sometimes closes early because people in Carmel “don’t usually eat dinner at this hour” (around 8:30 PM), but they were gracious and never rushed us.

I had a great experience at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands and look forward to going back soon. If you’re ever in California and are looking for a picturesque coastal town with a great hotel, look no further than Carmel.

Carmel's beautiful rugged coast

Carmel’s beautiful rugged coast

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Ariana Arghandewal

9 Comments

  1. Beautiful Suite! Personally, never saw a two story suite before, so cool.

    Makes me want to try a Nespresso machine. I have a Keurig and it’s fun.

  2. You seemed to like this place, but you said “I would never book it for 25,000 points per night” So could you explain further. Thanks.

    • I did love this place, but the standard Garden View rooms are really cramped and not worth 25k per night. On points + cash it’s totally worth it if you can upgrade to a Townhouse Suite like I did.

      • It appears that I can get an ocean view one bedroom for 25K in December, and I am thinking about going for it.

        • That sounds like a better option than the Garden View room. I say go for it.

  3. They haven’t fixed that slider yet?!?! the track’s been bent for 2 years in that room!

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